Ofilispeaks: 7 Things You Must Do Before Writing Your BookPosted on Wednesday, February 1st, 2012 at 10:22 AM
One thing a lot of people don’t know about me is that I am a full time engineer working a typical 9 to 5 job. But despite the craziness of corprate life, family life and running 2 entrepreneural ventures I have been able to complete 2 books within 24 months. And if you cull anything from the title of my next book How Laziness Saved My Life, it is that I am one of the laziest people in the world (I kid I kid). I really like finding the most optimal way to get things done and one of them was how to write a book despite a crazy and busy schedule. But after meeting many authors with unpublished manuscripts (I once met a girl that had 5 completed manuscripts but no book), I realized that the greatest obstacle to writing is not the writing itself but rather the mental approach to writing. So based on my 2-book writing experience I came up with a list of things that everyone who has ever dreamt about writing a book should do. It is called 7 Things You Must Do Before Writing A Book.
NOTE: You might still bot believe, but writing is one of the least important things in writing a book.
“Surveys show that 80% of people want to write a book in their lives, but only very few people get to realize their dream of writing.”
#1 Tell Everybody You Are Writing A Book
I mean everybody. Your co-workers, your parents, your ex-girlfriend(s), your teachers, facebook…everyone! I know this might seem a little bit pompus at first. But trust me…it works and here is why. When you tell people you are writing a book, it puts pressure on you to actually get it done. Your book is no longer stuck in your head where it is prone to excuses and nonchalance but is now stuck in the minds of other people. And this helps drive you to completion, because everywhere you go people would ask you how your book is coming along and this serves to push you hard to get it done. I remember once when I was slacking on my first book, I attended a party and some individual asked me how my new book was coming along. I bluttered out a few excuses that I can’t remember. But that experiencing jolted me and that night (same night) I completed an entire chapter. So tell everyone, the more people the better.
HINT: For months I called myself soon to be published author of __________ even though I had not put _____________ on paper. Do the same.
#2 Design Your Book Cover
If you thought telling everybody about the book was crazy. Then skip this step, because it is about to get crazier. The single most important step of completing your book, is designing the book cover before you write anything! This step is so important that I created a supplemental video to explain SEE VIDEO
Simply put, designing your book cover (nothing fancy) is a very important step in writing your book. Some might scoff at the idea, but trust me it works. When you design your book cover, you have created a mental image of the book in your mind. Your book becomes even more palpable and more of a reality. If you have a picture of yourself that is even better! But you would also need to show people the book cover you have designed (see step #1 to know why). Post it on facebook, twitter, your companies restroom , your website and any place you can find. One of the crazy things I used to do when I was writing was carry the A4 design of my quasi book cover to the local Barnes Noble bookstore in Houston. I would place it on the cover of a book and just visualize my books on the shelf, like the above step this motivated me to get my writing done. Which brings me to step #3
#3 Steal A Book
OK OK not literarily. If you get arrested you are on your own! But you would need to find a book that is closely written in a style of writing that is quite similar to yours. This is simply a book written by another author that writes like you. This is not to be confused with your favorite author. My favorite author for example is Malcolm Gladwell, but his writing style is too complicated and detailed for me. Simply put we write very differently. The book I found that worked for me was IGNORE EVERYBODY written by Hugh Macleod. This is an author that writes in a very light (short for non complex) and funny style. His books are not biblically long but are interesting enough to stress the point. I studied his book for weeks, looking at how he laid out his chapters and transitions. And when I felt discouraged about the direction or potential success of my book…I found myself getting encouragement from my stolen book. Steal a book. If you still feel nervous about stealing then check out The 8 Things That I Stole.
NOTE: The first 3 steps are probably not what you expected…but trust me….it will all make sense. The greatest obstacle to writing a book is not writing, I have met people at book readings that have 3-5 manuscripts and no books. The obstacle is quitting, fear of book acceptance and an inability to visualize their book.
#4 Pick A Crazy Title that Makes People Say huh!
One of the greatest crimes to commit is to write a book with a boring title! Unfortunately, I cannot put people in jail for that…but if I had my way I will. But I digress…you want to pick a book title that makes people say “huh” everytime you say it. Imagine being approached by a stranger and he asks you the name of the book you are writing. You respond and he says OK and walks off. But then imagine again, you have a crazy title…a stranger asks you what you are writing and you say “How the moon caught fire” or “How Great Ideas Have Sex” and he says “huh” or “tell me more about it” or “that sounds interesting.” Imagine what that does for your esteem? Like the above 4 it pushes you to get the book done, because people are already excited about the title. This inevitably would excite you about your title and book ultimately. So pick pick a crazy title. Don’t worry about it being final…if you are anything like me, you would go through 3-4 crazy titles before settling on one that is super crazy like How Stupidity Saved My Life.
WARNING: Your title needs to go with your book theme/story…picking a crazy title is easy, but picking one that works with your theme/story is quite key.
#5 Define Your Book Theme
In one sentence…can you describe your book.
If you get stuck in an elevator with the CEO of that big publishing company, can you describe your book before he gets to his floor, without stuttering? Once you are able to achieve this…then you have created an important foundation that allows you to write with purpose.
#6 Blog Blog Blog
This step is the only reason I will be able to publish at least 2 books in my life. And it is simply because of the power of blogging.
Several years ago I completed a report for my company in less than 2 months, largely because I had to get it done or get fired. But the fact was that I had accidentally completed a 30,000+ technical book without knowing it (the average book contains about 30,000 words). This led me to write this article How To Write A Book Without Writing.
Many people have written numerous books in their lifetime but don’t realize it. For example, if we accumulate all the comments and articles we have written on our blogs, we would see that we enough words for a book. However, they have no form as there is no unifying theme combining our words together. This is why step #5 define your book theme is very important. With a theme for your book you can blog with purpose.
For my second book, I knew that I wanted to write a book on entrepreneurship and business. So my blogs revolved around entrepreneurial/business success tips. I put myself on a strict and disciplined regimen of writing at least one 1500 article every month. I did this unfailingly starting January of 2011 and at the end of the year, I had 20+ quality
articles chapters and over 25,000+ words in my book. All based around the theme of business and entrepreneurial success (not to mention 20+ cartoons and sketches). After a little bit of cleaning up I was able to complete a manuscript.
“One of the other advantages of blogging is that you get the oppurtunity for instant feedback.”
That above is the power step to completing a book despite having a busy schedule. However, the first five steps are critical in getting you there as they mentally prepare you, because blogging an entire book requires time, dedication and discipline. But as long as you stay focused on a blog schedule, follow all the steps above and write at least a chapter or more a month you are very well on your way to completing your book.
The last and final step is to read soon to be published “How To Publish A Book In 2 Months” and “How To Market Your Book With Social Media” which ironically I have not written yet. But like step #1 above states, by mentioning this on a public blog I hope to put pressure on myself to get these 2 articles done or face the wrath of